Republican House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has stated that lawmakers will work to find ways to mend the relationship between law enforcement and the black community.
Ryan’s admission arrived just a day before the formal announcement that the House would form a bipartisan panel to investigate and recommend solutions to improve how police officers interact with African-Americans.
On July 12, Ryan discussed the current racial tensions in the U.S. during a CNN-moderated town hall meeting in New York.
“I think it’s very important that we calm down in this country, we start listening to each other, we start talking about solutions,” Ryan said, according to Roll Call. “We’re already forming a bipartisan group to do just that.”
Referencing the slaying of five Dallas police officers during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on July 7, Ryan called for both law enforcement and the BLM movement to have an open dialogue instead of engaging in finger-pointing.
“You can’t blame the shooting on Black Lives Matter and you can’t also blame the bad things that a couple of cops do on all of the cops,” Ryan said. “So let’s not make sure that we’re painting people with a broad brush.”
Ryan was asked to explain what the phrase “black lives matter” meant to him.
The House speaker replied, “You’re saying black lives matter because people feel like they’re being discriminated against and they’re not safe because of the color of their skin.”
Ryan added that the persistent protests by BLM activists signaled to him that the issue was urgent and needed to be addressed.
“And because people believe that, we have to listen to that,” Ryan stated. “And we have to hear about it. We have to understand it. And then instead of just talking, let’s go trying to solve it.”
On July 13, Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, and ranking member Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan announced that a working group comprised of six Republicans and six Democrats would begin examining how to improve law enforcement’s relationship with the black community.
The working group will begin its work on July 14.
Ryan is not the only GOP leader to signal party members are listening and accepting the message of BLM activists. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has voiced agreement with the movement’s message.
“Clearly, a lot of people who are involved in Black Lives Matter are just citizens who are trying to say to the country how worried they are, because that’s the other story,” Gingrich told Newsmax.
Gingrich, who is being considered to run as vice president with Republican candidate Donald Trump, explained that he found it disturbing that even affluent African-American parents he knew still had to regularly remind their children to be on their best behavior when dealing with police officers for fear of violent retaliation.
“All of us conservatives say, ‘If you’re going to take on terrorism, you have to be willing to talk about radical Islam,’” Gingrich added. “Well, if you’re going to solve the problem of racism in America, you have to have the guts to talk about the racism in America.”
Former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York has a different take on the BLM movement.
“When you say black lives matter, that’s inherently racist,” Giuliani told CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
The former mayor dismissed the BLM message as “anti-American, and it’s racist.”